From kings to rockstars to anyone down the street from you, everyone deserves a respectable and dignified funeral service. As most family members are emotionally vested, it’s common to hire the services of a funeral director for planning the events. In moments of vulnerability for the immediate family, support from professionals and the community-at-large is essential to help them focus on healing and #whatmattersmost.

Today, we’d like to begin a new series on this blog talking with funeral directors about their experiences in planning end of life events for families. Our first conversation is with Christine Cuoco. Christine is a funeral director at Ruby Memorial, LLC in New Jersey. We learned more about what she does on regular basis and how she helps families. Here’s more from Christine…

Conversations with a Funeral Director: Christine Cuoco of Ruby Memorial

Conversations with a Funeral Director: Christine Cuoco

Working with ethnic communities

Death is a fact of life and every community is touched with a passing at some point. Christine works with many ethnic communities in New Jersey. Despite various cultural differences across them, she sees it as an opportunity for her to provide for the needs of all families. Here’s how she described her experiences,

“Over the past 15 years I have cared for many Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Christian families only to realize that my background and attention to ceremonial details have allowed me to focus on preserving culture and tradition. My services and funeral home provide the availability for traditional ceremonies that accompany the many different cultures and rituals associated with the needs of each individual family.”

Funeral Directors Take Up the Responsibility For the Families

When a new family comes to see Christine, she immediately takes on the entire burden for the family and includes herself as a part of their group.

“I’m not carrying the emotions but I’m carrying the responsibility that a head family member would do,” she said.

This allows the family to grieve together. She puts herself in front to answer any questions or concerns so the family can be together. There always the need for someone to be designated as the person in control and by doing this for her families, it helps Christine be a part of the family. The best compliment she gets is when a family tells her that she felt like a part of the family.

Challenges of Organizing Funeral Events

Funeral directors are usually in communication with immediate family members. Christine serves the South Asian Community. She’s often found it hard to figure out who is in charge from the family side. Everyone wants to help. Many friends and family contact her to tell her that they’re helping the grieving family. While a noble deed, it can be tough for her to determine who is in charge to help make the final decisions.

Communication Solutions to Help the Families

Christine has been creating text messaging groups using the apps like WhatsApp to communicate with her families. If Christine adds a certain family member to the group, then that is a signal that they are part of the decision makers.

When Christine uses the Everdays app to create an announcement, she gets a list of family members. She is able to  designate some as messengers to help spread the word about the passing. In certain instances, families don’t want a public announcement on her website. She uses the private messaging feature on Everdays to avoid public sharing. The family stays in control of who can see the announcement.

The Evolution of the Funeral Industry

As she works with a younger and more tech savvy families, Christine sees the future of funerals becoming more DIY (do-it-yourself).

“There are so many consumer advocates out there trying to guide people on what to do. Eventually, someone could get cut out. Families want to get more involved and hands on that they may only need a funeral director for the disposition-including the transportation of the deceased,” she says.

It’s hard to think that funerals could be organized without the expert help from a director. With an emotional loss, support is often a necessity. But perhaps, families will get more involved as more people try to create their own unique services. It is likely that families will have varying details in the end of life events in the future. Don’t you think?

We’d like to thank Christine for sharing her insights with us, and more importantly for helping families that are going through a difficult time.

About Christine Cuoco

Christine has 15 years experience working in the funeral industry. As manager of Ruby Memorial, LLC in New Jersey, Christine’s commitment is to serving South Asian Families.  She is committed to the preservation of traditional cultural and social responses to death and loss.